By Walt Walton
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” 6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” – Luke 13:1-9
There are so many ways that the Lord provides for us in this life, but a sad truth is: Everyone is going to die one day. Each of us face several tragedies year by year and it can be difficult to process those emotions over and over again. Tragedies like earthquakes, blizzards, car crashes, wildfires, hurricanes, wars, and even those more personal tragedies like the loss of a loved one, difficulties at work, relationship conflict, difficult health diagnosis, the lists go on. Throughout the above verses in Luke, Jesus is creating a foundation for his listeners, a biblical view of the world. During these ancient days some Galileans were located in Jerusalem and they were inside the temple offering sacrifices.
A tragedy occurred that day. Pilate had his soldiers come kill those Galileans and mix their blood with their sacrifices, which is terrible to even fathom. There was another horrific evet that happened in the city apart from those innocent Galileans being cruelly put to death. The tower of Siloam fell on 18 other Galileans and killed them. It’s important to note that within this culture people thought that “bad people” would get punished by God for being sinful. If nothing bad ever happened to you that meant that you were a “good person.”
In that second verse of Luke 13, Jesus is letting his audience no their thinking about good and bad people was woefully amiss. Those Jews were slaughtered unlawfully for no reason and are no worse a sinner than any other. Still, events like these could lead anyone to asking: How could God be just?
Jesus proclaims in verse 5 unless you repent you will perish. Jesus is trying to give the people a better understanding and an opportunity to change their mindset about sin. Perish can mean to be lost, destroyed, or even killed. And, as we know, we’re all living on limited time. We will all perish, but will we repent and accept the life of resurrection that Jesus offers?
The parable of the barren fig tree could be speaking on behalf of Israel. Fig trees have been used to describe Israel a few places within scripture, for example, in Matthew 21:19 and Mark 11:14.
And in these verses from Luke, Luke:13:6-7 offers us a lesson about fruitlessness which equally applies not only to the whole nation but also to each individual soul. In these verses we see that this tree has been around long enough to grow fruit but has been maintaining a fruitless life. Continuing on in verses 8-9 we see an illustration of God showing grace, mercy, and patience. This tree is on borrowed time just like every human life is; in a world that needs truth. Life is short as written in James 4:14. God is patient with us and we’re so important to him.
As followers of Jesus, each of us has access to the truth, that is, the gospel, which is life-changing information that can be given to someone. Telling others about the gifts that Jesus has to offer through his death, burial, and resurrection – can be the fruit of our lives when we share this gift with others.
During this season of Lent, I hope you take some small portions out of your day and observe some reasons why Lent should be celebrated. It prepares our hearts and minds for Easter, which is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There was a wrath that had to be atoned for when sin was imputed into the world, Jesus took care of that for each of us. He conquers over sin and death on our behalf, hallelujah! Practicing the way of Lent reminds us that not only did Jesus provide a way, but he is the way (John 14:6). This Lent season take in consideration something you’d like to give up and replace it with time with Jesus and through that, I hope that you gain a different perspective and more understanding this Lent season.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man. his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. – Isaiah 55:6-7